“And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brothers to the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come here also;” Acts 17:6
That observation was made by the rulers of the city of Thessalonica whose citizens had been stirred up by the visit and preaching of Paul and Silas in that region. Paul and Silas had made an indelible mark on the people and the landscape that one could not but pay attention to them.
I often wonder whether we as individual believers in Christ Jesus or the church in general in our local city or town have made an impact among our friends and neighbours that we cannot be ignored anymore! Or is it that we are playing safe so that we don’t stir up anyone, for fear of hurting anyone’s feelings!
Recently, wanting to rejoice with friends over Christmas, I sent a music clip of Handel‘s classical Messiah – ‘For unto us a child is born’ via YouTube to a number of people. One in particular was offended because he’s ‘not religious’. But he couldn’t deny the Christmas season. However, he wanted nothing to do with anything that would remind him why almost the world over is marking the occasion. This made me ask myself: "am I willing to declare the truth even though the culture around me is coaching everyone to forget about the most important thing?"
A friend also told me a story where he was invited to join a family for a Christmas lunch but was asked by the host not to say anything about God or religion! That left him wondering why especially when all were gathered to celebrate Christmas. As he pondered during the course of the meal, an opportunity came, and he shared about all the wonderful things God has done in his life. To his amazement, everyone listened without objection.
In the past year, we’ve seen increased pressure on Christians not to speak out about their faith, in many spheres of life. Many believers and congregations today are not talking about the most important person in everyone’s life for fear of accusations of proselytising or trying to convert people. Paul and Silas faced the same dilemma in their day. They were threatened with imprisonment and even death. But hear the words of those city rulers who hated God: ‘these have turned the world upside down’. Their fear was that what Paul and Silas were advocating was a new way of life. They didn’t want change but felt challenged.
The world is in chaos and the only thing that could turn it up the right way, is the Gospel Truth. The message of Paul and Silas is still needed today. That’s the only hope that will usher peace and safety in that each one of us yearns for and more importantly to a people who are perishing without making peace with God. These days one who says that Jesus is the only hope and way for salvation is labelled a bigot and intolerant.
Are you willing this year to walk in the shoes of Paul and Silas? It is not our good works that will turn the world upside down. It is not even the message of Jesus, but rather the person of Jesus. The world hated Him in His day. The world still hates Him today, yet He is the very thing that can change every single person in this world. Brothers and sisters let us seek the Lord about how we can make Jesus known to our friends and neighbours in 2017. Let's turn Haringey (and the world) upside down! Our redemption is drawing near!
Pastor Charles Mugenyi is the pastor at Woodberry Down Chapel and one of Haringey's Borough Deans